In Part 1 of discussing the impact of lake drawdowns on the fall transition, I outlined the general areas I target on reservoirs when the fall dewatering process is in effect. This time around, I want to detail the specific fishing opportunities these drawdown windows provide, some of which just happen to be my favorite ways to fish.
Schooling Fish on Main Lake Features
Topwaters, jerkbaits and the fall feed all go hand-in-hand during drawdowns. As the water level is lowered, the excess water exiting the system can create current along main lake features that have not had current all summer long. Just the slightest amount of current over major points, humps and shoals can create feeding frenzies that were not present just a week or two before.
Places that have not had many fish on them will suddenly come to life with schooling activity; this is when I like to go to work with surface walkers like a Strike King Sexy Dawg or a jerkbait like the KVD 300. Birds are usually the first to find these frenzies, so keep an eye out for diving gulls and herons stationed near main lake points.
Buzzing and Plopping Skinny Flats
In some impoundments, bass will stay extremely shallow when the water is dropping, especially if it’s a slow drop. During fall drawdowns, bass will ambush bait right up against the bank. Bass smashing lures as soon as they are pulled off the bank is a behavior indicative of drawdowns.
When this kind of activity is happening on skinny flats, a buzzbait, buzzing toad or plopper-style topwater is hard to beat. These noisemakers gurgling along the surface pull shallow bass from a long way and often you will see the bass waking toward your lure before the strike occurs –that’s textbook fall drawdown fishing.
Squarebills on Isolated Targets
Oh man, don’t tempt me with a good time!
A squarebill on shallow, visible targets is absolutely one of my favorite ways to fish, and fall drawdowns are a prime time for doing this as well. Fast-falling water forces fish off flats, and they’ll hunker down next to literally any piece of slightly deeper cover they can find as they transition out.
I love to zigzag through flats in 2 to 5 feet of water looking for any visible targets that the falling water has just revealed: laydowns, stumps, rocks, brush tops, pilings, transition seams – when I see an isolated piece of cover, I’ll crash a KVD 1.5 into it to see if anybody is home.
Be sure to make multiple casts at these targets, sometimes you have to ring the doorbell several times before something answers the door!
Fall drawdown is a great time to throw everything from topwaters to jerkbaits to squarebills to frogs.
When Water Drops, the Frog Hops
Falling water on grass lakes often means matted grass, and matted grass often means frog fishing, as in hollow-bodied, weedless walking lures like a Sexy Frog or Popping Perch. This is yet another truly exciting way to fish made better by drawdowns.
When water falls and the grass mats, it can be intimidating because anglers are faced with expansive fields of matted grass that all look the same. But if you look closely, you will see thin spots, soft spots, irregularly shaped holes, ditches and seams running through those big matted fields. Those are the oddball places in grass mats that you want to target. Bomb the Frog or Perch out there and test those irregularities.
Bass can get pretty picky about the way they want a frog presented so experiment with the retrieve. Sometimes fast walking triggers the bite and other times it needs to crawl across the mat like a turtle for a reaction.
Break Out the Lipless Rattlers
Lipless rattle baits get a lot of attention in the early spring of the year, especially on grass lakes. But I’m here to tell you, fall is not too early to start throwing them. When drawdowns reveal those ditches or drains in grass-filled bays, it’s time to wind a Red Eye Shad right down the middle of them, trying to tick the tops of the deeper grass in the middle of the drains. Bass will pull out over the middle of those drains and suspend in the grass and the Red Eye Shad is just the tool to rattle them out.
If you’re fishing a lake where the water is falling for drawdown, I guarantee you at least one or two of these tactics are in play right now, so load up your Plano StowAways and go catch ’em!